Warrior Jam to benefit soldiers with mental health issues
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With the Iraq war ending and the conflict in Afghanistan nearing a close, thousands of soldiers are returning from battle. Many are afflicted with injuries that can't easily be seen.
Ronnie Sadoski is an Army vet with PTSD who started Wags for Tags, an organization that rescues dogs from kennels and trains them for emotional companionship with soldiers.
"When I was thinking about doing something stupid, then I think about her, and who's gonna take care of her? She takes care of me, I take care of her, and if i'm gone, then she has nobody. So it keeps me going."
Wags for Tags is just one of the many organizations participating in the first ever Warrior Jam, a benefit and concert to support soldiers with mental health issues.
The Jam is sponsored by Patriot Outreach, headed by Col. Antonio Monaco.
"The programs that we have help bridge the gap between the two and three percent that actually ask for help, and the silent majority that doesn't want to reach out," said Monaco.
Monaco said getting people, particularly men, to reach out for help is difficult. Many are afraid they won't be able to deploy again if they cite any mental health issues.
Jill Charles is the lead singer of the band Red Trii. Her husband is deployed now for the third time. She said at times the stress is unbearable, not just for her husband, but for their family too.
"What I do to survive is I pray during those deployments. I seek out opportunity to give to the community like this, so I stay busy," said Charles.
In July, 38 Army service members committed suicide, the worst month since the Army started tracking those deaths. Suicide is now the leading cause of death among active-duty soldiers, more than combat deaths.
Organizers of Saturday's event hope to lower those numbers with more events like Warrior Jam. They also plan to hold this event annually.